In the small town of Kyengera, just south of Uganda’s capital city of Kampala, lives a cheerful girl known by those in the community as “Stella, the handicapped girl.” Like most of the handicapped children in Uganda, Stella spent much of her life homebound and shunned. Uganda’s physical and social environments are decidedly disability-unfriendly, highlighted by a lack of handicap-accessible amenities, including toilets, as well as unchecked discrimination. Beliefs that handicaps are a result of curses and evil spirits, or are a punishment for wrongdoing, are prevalent in the culture. Only limited basic human rights exist for persons with disabilities in Uganda, and many are left homeless on the streets, begging for their next meal. Such is the world of Stella, “the handicapped girl.”
Stella was fifteen years old when she saw ECM children gathering each week for Saturday Bible club. As she watched from a distance, she saw something special going on, and asked if she could be a part of it. The program coordinator readily accepted her request, and now Stella attends as often as she can, loving the opportunities she has each week to learn from the Bible. With help from ECM, Stella was able to gain admittance to a school where the headmaster was also disabled. Though a teenager, she was placed in kindergarten, because she lacked any formal education. Now nineteen, she has advanced to Primary 2 (second grade) and is in a boarding school. She loves to learn and be with the other children! The Kyengera project regularly provides Stella with transportation to and from her boarding school, and whenever possible helps with her school fees as well.
ECM has made a significant effort over the past few years to bring hope and practical help to children with disabilities. This often-overlooked group needs our help more than ever, as these children are not only discriminated against in their society, but also face serious challenges because of the lack of available handicap-accessible amenities. We are working hard to care for these kids and to help make their lives better.
Recently, Stella has faced some additional challenges in her life, and returning to school was difficult. Her mother became ill and did not have the funds to both purchase her own medication and also send Stella to school. She also struggles to use the local transportation system because her wheelchair will not fold up. Your gift today will help us provide for these and many other needs as we reach out to those with disabilities. (Please designate your gift for “Children with Disabilities”, or visit our website and click on Donate Now).